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Rehab for Seniors

Today, more than 43 million senior citizens are living in the United States. Seeking out substance addiction treatment is filled with stigma for many, especially for the senior population. Attending addiction therapy with younger people is usually not an optimal treatment situation.

Seniors are proven to participate more, be more comfortable, and have better results when sharing their stories with other seniors. However, the elderly may need extra help when it comes to overcoming their addiction.

Many seniors obtain the help needed to overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol through specialized addiction rehabilitation programs.

What Is Rehab for Seniors?

Seniors struggling with substance abuse may have dangerous consequences due to how the body reacts to substance use as it ages. Numerous people are surprised to learn that so many seniors suffer from substance addiction. Loneliness, isolation, stigma, untreated depression, and a lack of mobility are all barriers seniors struggling with substance addiction deal with.

Flakka Drug Effects
Studies show that the Baby Boomer generation has seen a dramatic increase in substance use among those 50 and older. Because of this increase in substance abuse, more rehab for seniors treatment centers are needed to serve the elderly population. Today in 2020, there is a growing elderly community that requires age-specific addiction treatment, especially rehab for the elderly.

For instance, younger people might not experience severe withdrawal symptoms during the detox process. The elderly, though, may encounter much harsher withdrawal effects.

The mental decline that happens to the elderly could also lead to prescription medication addiction. Due to the way a senior handles the addiction rehab process, supervision is required from the treatment team, who is trained in substance addiction therapy.

Identifying Substance Abuse in Seniors

Recognizing and diagnosing a substance dependency amongst the elderly is not a simple task. This is partially due to likely social isolation. Usually, seniors are retired and are no longer in the workforce. They’re sometimes living alone or far from other family members. Their social circles dwindle as peers become less mobile or pass away.

Even doctors are hesitant to diagnose drug or alcohol addiction because they feel seniors can use those substances. Also, loved ones might not want to take prescriptions like Xanax away from seniors who use it due to the negative impact it will have on their quality of life.

Drugs and alcohol present problems for the elderly population — by the way substance abuse takes a toll on their health. As people age, psychological changes happen in the body and brain, making them less tolerant to the effects of substances. Metabolism will slow down, and medical difficulties may conflict with how the drugs and alcohol are broken down in the body.

How Drug and Alcohol Abuse Affects the Elderly

Substance abuse enhances many risks like becoming addicted, falling and hurting yourself, feeling suicidal, or losing memory. Substance abuse starts innocently enough, as elderly users aren’t using to get high, but rather reduce emotional or physical pain. Some seniors struggling with aging will use substances to cope with their distress related to chronic pain, illness, or the deaths of loved ones.

Lowering the number of substances used could bring more significant effects on the tolerance level may be more moderate. The elderly are also highly likely to have a co-occurring mental or medical health concern. Anxiety and depression disorders are highly prevalent among the senior community who abuse substances. Drug and alcohol use may temporarily reduce the symptoms of lower mental illness symptoms. However, it only serves to complicate treatment and worsen the disorder.

Many medications seniors take are mind-altering and likely addictive substances that, when taken for an extended period, can create a dependency that then transforms into an addiction. Elderly adults are more likely to take medications like benzodiazepines for an extended period, take more than one prescription at a time, and be prescribed long-term medications more than the younger generation.

These substances cause chemical changes in the brain, and throughout time, could lead to compulsive substance-seeking behavior, cravings, and lack of control over drug use. This is a clear indication that substance abuse has developed into a full-blown addiction.

Seniors and Substance Abuse

Every stage of life will present us with both opportunities and challenges. For seniors, common obstacles to satisfaction and happiness involve social isolation, loss, getting over grief, family conflict, and financial problems. Isolation and loneliness put seniors at a higher risk for physical discomfort, substance abuse, depression, despair, emotional distress, and suicide. The senior community is also usually prescribed multiple medications that cause lethal consequences when mixed with drugs or alcohol.

Like other people, seniors become hesitant to seek treatment or don’t know where to go for help. Rehab for seniors, along with community support, can often alleviate the pain and stress they deal with when considering treatment.

Unfortunately, addiction amongst the senior community is usually missed by friends and family and even doctors because their symptoms are typically described as insomnia, physical pain, or low energy. With the elderly, addiction symptoms are usually seen as the unavoidable result of growing old and not because of substance addiction.

The Process of Rehab for Seniors

Substance addiction recovery will involve treatment for both physical dependence and therapy for psychological addiction. Before seniors begin treatment, they must first complete a detox in which substances are physically withdrawn from the body.


Most rehab for the elderly centers will incorporate a supervised detox to wean patients off rather than making them stop abruptly. The specific time the detox process takes will depend on the patient and substance used but is usually completed within a week. When dealing with addiction amongst seniors, the patients must be monitored by a treatment specialist 24 hours a day to ensure their safety.


Once the senior has successfully detoxed, the addiction treatment process will begin. Usually, elderly patients will work with addiction counselors on a one-on-one basis and group sessions to help them combat their addiction entirely.

Like other addiction facilities, rehab for the elderly centers will be designed to provide treatment for each patient. While one patient may succeed by working extensively with groups, others may find success working individually with their therapist.

Numerous rehab for senior centers will involve both patient and therapy sessions and group therapy with family and loved ones. With group and individual therapy, family therapy will help form a solid foundation for a successful recovery process.

Age-Specific and Mixed-Age Addiction Treatment Programs

As the need for rehab and mental health treatment for seniors increases, more treatment centers provide care options that cater to the elderly. There usually are two kinds of programs: general treatment programs for all ages, and those that are age-specific and tailored to particular communities. Just like how teenagers have mitigating circumstances and special needs, the elderly population also requires a specific form of help. Sometimes gender-specific programs are also beneficial to the elderly community.

Generally speaking, it may better suit a patient in a treatment program with peers in related life events. Since seniors may abuse substances for other reasons than younger people, it’s better to separate treatment programs for each group.

Rehab for seniors treatment options may include:

  • Medical detox
  • Outpatient rehab
  • Preventative, education, and support services
  • Residential treatment

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment Rehab for Seniors

Once you’ve decided to seek help for substance abuse, the next determination will be if they require an inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab for seniors program. There are advantages and disadvantages to each addiction program. You must weigh each factor to get the best treatment for their specific needs.

Seniors must feel comfortable in their environment, which is why choosing the best rehab for seniors facility is a crucial part of the decision process. Another significant factor that must be considered when shopping rehab for seniors facilities is the treatment options that are available to a highly diverse therapy group. The treatment type applied to the patient will play a significant role in overcoming their addiction.

If a senior citizen attends a program that doesn’t offer customized treatment plans, their chances of finishing are low. However, once the patient receives a treatment plan that works with their needs, they’re more inclined to complete rehab and maintain sobriety.

Get Help Today

Finding the best rehab for seniors can be a complicated process. CNV Detox knows how to approach addiction in seniors and help them get back on track to sobriety. Contact us today with any questions or concerns regarding our facility and how our rehab for seniors programs work!

Take the Next Step

The path to recovery is only one step away. Begin your treatment at CNV Detox in Los Angeles, California as soon as the same day. For your convenience, we work 24/7. Our team is ready to help as soon as you reach out.